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Discover everything you need to know about Latvia

Hire in Latvia at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Latvia

GDP growth
GDP world share
Payroll frequency
Working hours
40 hours/week

Overview in Latvia

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Geography and Climate

Latvia is located in northeastern Europe, bordered by Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, and Belarus. It features a mostly lowland terrain with some hills and a dense network of rivers, including the Daugava and Gauja. The country has over 2,000 lakes and experiences a temperate maritime climate with cool summers and moderately cold winters.

Historical Background

Latvia has a rich history, initially settled by the Balts around 3000 BCE. It became a hub for trade and was subject to various invasions and rulers, including the Teutonic knights in the 13th century and later divisions among Poland-Lithuania, Sweden, and Russia. Latvia declared independence in 1918, was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, and regained independence in 1991. It joined NATO and the EU in 2004.

Socio-Economic Overview

As of 2023, Latvia has a population of approximately 1.9 million, with ethnic Latvians making up 63% and Russians about 25%. It operates as a parliamentary republic with a mixed economy dominated by the service sector. Latvia adopted the Euro in 2014 and faces challenges such as an aging workforce and outward migration.

Education and Workforce

Latvia boasts a highly educated population, with over 85% having attained at least upper secondary education. The country emphasizes STEM education and lifelong learning to adapt to modern economic demands.

Economic Sectors

The service sector is pivotal, particularly in transportation, ICT, and financial services, due to Latvia's strategic location. Manufacturing focuses on wood processing, food production, and machinery. Agriculture remains vital in rural areas. Emerging sectors include renewable energy and biotechnology.

Cultural and Employment Practices

Latvian culture blends Baltic traditions with influences from past rulers. The workforce values a strong work ethic and a healthy work-life balance, with employment laws supporting generous leave entitlements and increasingly flexible work arrangements. Communication in professional settings is reserved and direct, and workplaces tend to be hierarchical.

Taxes in Latvia

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In Latvia, employers contribute significantly to social security, with a rate of 23.59% of an employee's gross salary, covering benefits like pensions and unemployment. Employers also handle a 0.8% unemployment insurance contribution and withhold personal income tax (PIT), which varies based on income levels. For high earners exceeding €78,100 annually, a Solidarity Tax (ST) is imposed, with both employer and employee contributions. Employers must register with the State Revenue Service (VID) and submit monthly financial reports.

Latvia employs a progressive PIT system, with rates increasing with income levels, and offers various tax deductions to reduce taxable income. VAT is standard at 21%, with reduced rates for specific services, and businesses must register for VAT if turnover exceeds €40,000 annually. Special VAT rules apply to cross-border services and specific sectors like telecommunications.

Additionally, Latvia incentivizes businesses with tax credits for R&D, investments in assets, and benefits for operations in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Free Ports. The microenterprise tax regime offers a simplified and reduced tax rate for small businesses. These fiscal policies are subject to change and require compliance with current regulations.

Leave in Latvia

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  • Annual Leave: In Latvia, all workers, regardless of their employment status, are entitled to a minimum of four weeks (20 working days) of paid annual leave per year, which can be taken after six months of continuous service. Unused vacation leave can be carried over to the next year with a written agreement, allowing up to two weeks of carryover.

  • Additional Vacation Leave: Employees in hazardous jobs, those raising three or more children under 16, or a disabled child, and workers under 18 receive additional vacation days.

  • Vacation Pay and Uninterrupted Leave: Employees must be paid their regular rate during vacation, and at least two consecutive weeks of leave must be provided.

  • Public Holidays: Latvia observes several public holidays, including New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter, Labour Day, Restoration of Independence Day, Midsummer Eve, Proclamation Day of the Republic, Christmas, and others. If a holiday falls on a weekend, the following Monday is usually a substitute holiday.

  • Other Types of Leave: Latvia also provides sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, parental leave, bereavement leave, and provisions for study, military, and voting leave, each with specific conditions and benefits.

Benefits in Latvia

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Latvia's labor laws provide a robust framework of employee benefits, including mandatory and optional provisions. Employees are entitled to at least four weeks of paid annual leave, paid public holidays, and up to 10 days of paid sick leave annually, with extended illness benefits handled by the State Social Insurance Agency. The country operates a three-tier pension system requiring employer contributions and offers unemployment insurance among other social security benefits.

Parental benefits include 112 days of maternity leave and 10 days of paternity leave. Employers often enhance packages with optional benefits such as health and life insurance, flexible work arrangements, and professional development opportunities. Additional perks might include meal vouchers, gym memberships, and transportation benefits.

Healthcare in Latvia includes a state-funded system, but many employers provide voluntary health insurance to overcome its limitations, such as long wait times for specialist care and co-payments. These plans typically offer quicker access to a broader range of services and are financially advantageous for both employers and employees due to tax benefits.

The pension system comprises a mandatory state pension (Pillar 1), a mandatory funded pension (Pillar 2), and voluntary private pension plans (Pillar 3), each designed to support employees' retirement with various benefits and savings options.

Workers Rights in Latvia

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In Latvia, employment termination is regulated by the Labour Law, which stipulates that employers must have valid grounds for dismissal, categorized into employee conduct, capabilities, and economic or operational reasons. Misconduct, lack of qualifications, and redundancy are some of the valid reasons for termination. Employers must provide a minimum of one month's notice, and severance pay is required under certain conditions such as redundancy. Discrimination in employment is prohibited on various grounds including race, sex, age, and disability, with legal mechanisms available for redress including complaints to the Ombudsman or Labor Inspectorate, and potential court actions. Employers are responsible for preventing discrimination and ensuring a safe, healthy work environment, adhering to regulations on work hours, rest periods, and ergonomic requirements. The State Labour Inspectorate enforces these standards to maintain workplace safety and health.

Agreements in Latvia

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Latvia offers various types of employment agreements to meet different employment needs, governed by the Latvian Labour Code. These include:

  • Indefinite-Term Employment Agreement: This is the standard contract offering long-term employment without a specific end date, providing stability for both parties.
  • Fixed-Term Employment Agreement: Used for employment with a specific duration, up to two years, ideal for project-based or seasonal work. It converts to an indefinite-term agreement if not terminated after two years.
  • Part-Time Employment Agreement: Suitable for employees working fewer than the standard 40 hours per week, allowing flexibility for those with other commitments.
  • Collective Agreement: A formal agreement between trade unions and employers that sets out broader employment conditions for a specific sector.

Employment agreements in Latvia must include essential clauses such as identification of parties, job position and duties, remuneration and benefits, working time and leave, termination clauses, intellectual property rights, and the governing law. They may also incorporate a probationary period of up to three months, during which either party can terminate the agreement with minimal notice.

Additional clauses like confidentiality and non-compete clauses are also common, designed to protect sensitive business information and prevent competition from former employees, respectively. These clauses must be reasonable and are subject to strict limitations under Latvian law, including financial compensation during the non-compete period.

Overall, Latvian employment law provides comprehensive protection and regulation, ensuring clarity and safeguarding the rights of both employers and employees.

Remote Work in Latvia

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  • Remote Work Legislation in Latvia: Latvia's Labour Law and Labour Protection Act regulate remote work, defining it as work performed outside the employer's premises using digital technologies. Employers are required to consider employee requests for remote work fairly, especially for roles that are conducive to such arrangements.

  • Employment Contract Requirements: The specifics of remote work should be detailed in the employment contract, including the duration, location, work schedule, and mutual responsibilities.

  • Technological and Infrastructure Needs: Employers must provide secure communication tools and ensure both parties have stable internet connections. Data security measures are crucial to protect sensitive information accessed remotely.

  • Employer Responsibilities: Employers in Latvia must cover costs related to remote work, such as electricity and internet, and ensure a safe working environment, even at home. This includes ergonomic consultations and clear communication about work expectations.

  • Data Security and Employee Privacy: Employers must adhere to GDPR guidelines, ensuring data security through encrypted communication tools, strong access controls, and regular employee training on data protection. Employees have rights to access, rectify, or delete their personal data, and object to its processing.

  • Additional Work Arrangements: The text also discusses part-time work, flexitime, and job sharing as flexible work arrangements that offer benefits like work-life balance and access to a broader talent pool, with part-time workers enjoying the same rights as full-time employees.

Working Hours in Latvia

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  • Regular Working Time: In Latvia, the standard daily working hours are capped at eight hours, with a total of no more than 40 hours per week.

  • Exceptions and Six-Day Workweek: Exceptions to the standard work schedule are allowed, such as in high-risk jobs where working hours can be reduced. For a six-day workweek, daily hours are limited to seven to keep the total within 40 hours.

  • Overtime Regulations: Overtime is restricted to 8 hours per week, 48 hours per month, and 144 hours over four months. It requires written consent and compensates at a minimum of 100% of the regular pay rate. Certain groups, like minors and new mothers, are exempt from overtime.

  • Rest Periods: Employees must have a minimum of 42 consecutive hours of rest weekly and 12 hours daily. Workdays of six hours or more require a break of at least 30 minutes.

  • Night and Weekend Work: Night work, defined as work done during late hours, requires reduced working hours for night shift employees. Weekend work typically counts as overtime and needs employee consent.

These regulations aim to balance productivity with employee well-being, ensuring fair working conditions and adequate rest and compensation for overtime and unusual schedules.

Salary in Latvia

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Understanding market competitive salaries in Latvia is essential for fair employee compensation and for employers to attract and retain talent. Factors influencing these salaries include industry, experience, education, location, and company size. Methods to determine competitive salaries include using salary databases, consulting recruitment agencies, analyzing job postings, and reviewing salary surveys. The minimum wage in Latvia, set by the government in consultation with the National Tripartite Cooperation Council, is €700 per month as of January 1, 2024. Variations in minimum wage apply to young employees and those with disabilities.

Employers in Latvia often offer bonuses such as performance-based and year-end bonuses, alongside allowances for paid time off, sick leave, meals, transportation, and family support to enhance compensation packages. Additional allowances may include mobile phone, gym membership, and professional development support.

Latvian payroll practices require a minimum frequency of twice a month, with the option for monthly payments upon mutual agreement. Employers must provide detailed payslips with each payment, ensuring transparency and compliance with labor laws.

Termination in Latvia

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In Latvia, labor law requires employers to provide a one-month notice period for employment termination initiated by the employer, unless the employee has committed misconduct or is medically unfit. Exceptions to this rule include employee-initiated terminations, probationary periods where only three days' notice is required, and variations allowed by collective bargaining agreements or mutual agreements between employer and employee.

Employees terminated by the employer under certain conditions such as performance issues, health reasons, or economic changes are entitled to severance pay, calculated based on their length of service and average earnings. Severance pay ranges from one to four months' average earnings, depending on the duration of employment. However, in cases of severe misconduct, severance pay may not be provided.

Employment termination must be communicated in writing, stating the specific reasons. Special considerations apply to trade union members, pregnant women, and employees on parental leave or with disabilities, requiring additional approvals for termination. Employees have the right to contest unfair or unlawful terminations in court within a month of the notice.

Freelancing in Latvia

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In Latvia, distinguishing between an employee and an independent contractor is essential for legal and financial compliance. Key factors considered include the level of control by the employer, integration of the worker into the business, financial risk, provision of benefits, and who provides the necessary tools and equipment. Misclassification can result in penalties for employers and loss of benefits for employees.

Independent contractors should have well-defined contracts such as Service Agreements, Statements of Work, and Non-Disclosure Agreements to prevent misclassification. Negotiation of contract terms is crucial, covering aspects like payment, scope of work, and termination clauses. Common fields for independent contracting include IT, creative industries, marketing, and construction.

Freelancers in Latvia hold default copyright ownership of their creations unless otherwise agreed in writing. They face specific tax obligations, including income tax and social security contributions, and can deduct business-related expenses. Freelancers are advised to consider voluntary social insurance and professional liability insurance for additional protection.

Health & Safety in Latvia

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Latvia has a robust legal framework to ensure safe and healthy working conditions, primarily governed by the Labour Protection Law and the Labour Law. Employers are obligated to conduct risk assessments, maintain safe environments, provide safety training, and report accidents. Employees have rights such as refusing unsafe work and accessing information about workplace hazards.

The Ministry of Welfare oversees health and safety policies, while the State Labour Inspectorate enforces regulations. Trade unions also play a significant role in advocating for safety issues. Non-compliance can lead to fines, notices, or prosecution, with laws aligning with EU directives and national regulations.

Key practices include comprehensive risk assessments, mandatory health checks, detailed safety training, and emergency preparedness. Employers must also provide necessary personal protective equipment. Workplace inspections by the State Labour Inspectorate are crucial for compliance, with frequency based on risk levels and past compliance.

Accidents must be reported promptly, with serious incidents investigated to prevent future occurrences. Latvia also mandates social insurance for work-related injuries, offering various compensations through the State Social Insurance Agency.

Dispute Resolution in Latvia

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Latvia has a structured approach to resolving labor disputes through labor courts and arbitration panels, each handling different types of cases. Labor courts deal with issues like employment contract disputes, labor law violations, and trade union matters, with a formal process involving claim filing, optional mediation, hearings, and judgments. Arbitration, on the other hand, is a voluntary process where parties agree to resolve disputes through a less formal hearing, resulting in a binding decision by the arbitrator.

Additionally, Latvia conducts compliance audits and inspections across various sectors to ensure adherence to laws and regulations. These audits involve planning, notification, fieldwork, reporting, corrective actions, and follow-up, conducted by various regulatory bodies depending on the industry.

Whistleblowing is also an integral part of Latvia's regulatory framework, with specific protections under the Whistleblowing Law to safeguard whistleblowers against retaliation and ensure their confidentiality.

Internationally, Latvia aligns with ILO conventions, which influence its labor laws significantly, promoting fair labor practices and decent work conditions. Key conventions ratified by Latvia address issues like freedom of association, collective bargaining, forced labor, equal remuneration, and non-discrimination. These conventions are integrated into Latvia's domestic labor laws, which regulate working hours, minimum wage, and occupational safety, overseen by the State Labour Inspectorate.

Despite these measures, challenges persist in areas like the informal economy and rights for migrant workers, indicating areas for potential improvement in labor standards enforcement.

Cultural Considerations in Latvia

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  • Direct Communication: In Latvia, business communication is characterized by directness and efficiency, often appearing blunt. This style is influenced by historical factors, including the Soviet era, emphasizing concise communication to avoid misinterpretations.

  • Formality in the Workplace: Latvian business culture maintains a formal atmosphere, using proper titles and structured emails. Meetings are well-organized with a clear agenda, and punctuality is crucial. Informality may develop with closer colleagues over time, but trust must be established first.

  • Non-verbal Communication: Non-verbal cues are significant in Latvia, where direct eye contact signifies attentiveness and respect. Latvians generally maintain a reserved facial expression and value personal space.

  • Negotiation Practices: Latvian negotiators prefer a direct approach, thorough preparation, and value building long-term relationships based on trust. Patience is essential, and decisions often require approval from higher management due to hierarchical business structures.

  • Hierarchical Business Structure: Latvian businesses typically have a pyramidal structure with centralized decision-making at the top. This hierarchy affects team dynamics and leadership styles, where leaders are directive and communication flows vertically.

  • Statutory Holidays and Work Impact: Latvia observes several statutory holidays like New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter, Līgo Day, National Day, and Christmas. These holidays can significantly impact business operations, necessitating careful planning and scheduling to accommodate closures and reduced hours.

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